Monday, December 21, 2009

Octopus Diptych Process

When I was younger I would take sailing classes during the summer. One time I was wading in the water, and a woman near-by called me over. "Look!" she said. And there near my feet in about 2 feet deep clear water was an Octopus. It stayed there very still for about 5 seconds with its tentacles spread over the sand, as if it was analyzing us. Then it zoomed away like a torpedo, pulling its arms down and jetting water. I lost sight of it in the deeper water.

I have never forgotten that moment, and octopuses have always been one of my favorite subjects to draw since. They are clever creatures and completely otherworldly, so different from anything we have on land.

Process: I started with a drawing in my sketchbook, graphite on paper 6x9"

I xeroxed the image and reduced it down to about 2.5x5" so it could fit into my projector.
With the projector I beamed an image of the octopus onto my two museum grade wood panels, an 8x8" and a 8x10", 8x18" together.
This part is relaxing and fun, I just listen to music and trace my drawing. I always feel like I am doing something naughty during this phase because I have always been taught not to trace. But I figure if I am tracing my own drawing then its okay. And its a real time saver!
Col-erase and graphite on the gessoed panel. I recommend not using col-erase, it smears when I sealed the drawing with gloss medium. I think a prisma color might have worked better.
I painted in the grayscale with titanium white and carbon black acrylic.
I then gently added glazes until I got to a point where I was satisfied. I put layers of gloss medium between each glazing to make the painting look deep. I love how the varnish catches light and holds it there. Plus I believe heavily varnished paintings age better. The varnish tans and it gives the painting a real vintage look. The photo doesn't do it justice.
The gap between the two panels adds an element of time, and makes the painting more sculptural. As you walk by the painting the gap changes from black (the color of the paint on the side of the panel) to white, or whatever the color of the wall is behind. Plus I think it fits the octopus well. They are tenacious creatures, and it looks as if the Octopus is sneaking over to the panel next to it.

It may be a strange painting to give for Christmas but I am going to send it to my brother. Hopefully he has a nice spot for it.

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